Georgia hates driving at night, despite added knowledge that she quite often dozes for short periods of time. Sometimes, it paralyzes her to think she can’t remember the path she previously drove; sometimes she even questions overrunning someone, perhaps a wandering child? Georgia graphically pictures a carcass of the unknown, lying prone in the road, self-incriminating blood caking the front bumper of her Dodge, and being oblivious to any perceptible recognition of performing a tragedy. It terrifies her not knowing if some horrified face was temporarily frozen in the bath of her car’s headlights. The night and Collective Soul plunge Georgia into a dank lethargy. She imagines some night phantom leaping out into her high-beams, or some ugly and stunted gnome showing an evil grin—standing at the shoulder of the road, or a strange night Ghoul hiding in the veil of darkness—waiting for the right moment to pounce across the hood.
Georgia switches the stereo over to the FM Tuner, and begins to sing, “Don’t need my calculus…”
After she adjusts the rear-view mirror, she shouts, “You and me equals love!”
Instantly, something strikes the lower part of the vehicle and makes swift scraping noises underneath the car, causing Georgia to jump.
What could have made such an inhuman noise? Has a car part fallen off somewhere? Have I run over a hazard that I could have avoided in the road? All imaginative thought returns to the road just traversed. Her mind holds renewed fear that she just ran over an animal or a human being wandering out onto the road. Tawny appears content in her child seat, as she takes in the stimulus that dances all around her.
The car rounds a curve and Georgia swears she sees a blue hologram silhouette of her belated Jeremiah, like a hapless deer caught unexpectedly in the car’s headlights, standing in the middle of the road. Jeremiah’s eyes hold a moment of recognition before the apparition floats over the hood of the car and vanishes.
Georgia squints and rubs her tired eyes between a thumb and index finger.
She swears Tawny says, “Da…da.”
It is as if her daughter saw the image too. Tears fill Georgia’s eyes.
“You hungry, Tawny…Dearie?”
The child mumbles, “Daftsss.”
“I’m famished,” Georgia returns. “I’ll stop by Mickey D’s.”
A huge smile spreads across Tawny’s little face.
“Yes! We can get you a Smiley Meal, sweetheart! Good girls get rewards.”
Tawny chuckles. Neither mother nor child is aware they are talking about the largest toy distributor in the world. Tawny looks out her window, as if to assess if her daddy will return. At the same moment, the car jumps as it hits a bump it encounters in the road, sending Tawny off into child-like squeals of delight.
Georgia is elated to find she lost twenty-seven pounds in four months. She feels guilty even contemplating eating a Huge Sam or a Quarter Pound Whaler with Cheese. Tawny finds the bright toy prize, from her kid’s meal, and puts it into her small mouth. She has her father’s cute nose and gleaming smile. She has her mother’s rosy cheeks and small hands. Georgia knows Tawny will be a heartbreaker—in about fifteen years, if the plague of violence striking the nation didn’t pick her out first. Georgia reflects on the bible and how it feels warm, now, when she picks it up and holds it in her hands. She knows such a sensation is ridiculous. An inanimate tome should not have the capacity to feel warm to the touch. It should obey the recognized laws of physics. She thinks, while she gorges on fast food. Tawny pleads her case in baby lingo. Georgia can hardly ever refuse a wish, upon looking into her daughter’s compassionate eyes. She hates to spoil the child and spare the rod. But she also depends on self-discovery to help shape her young child. It is a world of obvious contradictions, contradictions which often cause an outsider to itch at his rugged head.
Cledus has no real death conscience, until he picks up a modern newspaper and sees a public school shooting on page A5. He thinks about growing up and being taught to respect shooting irons. His foray into gun fighting was his choice as an adult. As a child, Cledus longed for a hand-made B-B Gun, and not a mass-produced piece of plastic with highly bio-degradable bb’s. In his youth, he knew not to desire to possess a power beyond his ability to fathom. He only shot gunpowder loaded guns with his father, a man that explained to him that a gun’s power could be a deathly extension of his fist. He was also told he could fire a gun, without supervision, when he was a task older. In the 1800’s…a gun could maim, kill, and get him hung.
Now…Cledus feels responsible, somehow. His new world lackadaisically covers violent acts, often obsessively. Even violent acts involving children. Cledus wonders if the coverage of violent acts beckons children to seek out a weapon, be a copy-cat, and make a name known through a criminal act? A shooting iron was timeless; it always made equal every primordial Stone Age instinct to conquer no matter what the cost.